A few months ago, I bought an apartment. As a young twenty-something it was my first home away from “home” (i.e. Mum’s house) and I was nervous enough to buy a domestic manual. It’s called What to do About Everything by Barbara Toner, and despite my techy inclinations I’d still recommend it to anyone wanting some down-to-earth advice on being a grown-up (or to anyone shopping for a housewarming gift).
However, the book takes time to study, and sometimes I need help immediately. I may not be a master of home economics yet, but I sure can work a smartphone and use the internet as a tool to aid me on the go. Here’s some of the iPhone apps that help me seem more confident in household management than I actually am, and be a better adult in general.
Keeping the place clean
Chores aren’t as bad as they seem, or at least they are preferable to the eternal shame of living in squalor. Despite whatever you claimed as a defiant teenager; you will clean, at least when you’re expecting guests. An app like Trusper Tips may help your search for advice, but the hardest part can be remembering what needs to be done, and when.
If you’ve got housemates, Fair Share might be the app for you. Available on iPhone and Android, it lets you create a roster of chores and assign them to different members of the household. Each task has a point value depending on the time and difficulty of the task, and Fair Share tracks the history of who’s done what, so it’s pretty much the final word in any argument about who’s been pulling their weight. You can also use it to split the rent and other bills.
If you’re just trying to keep on top of your own chores, consider Errands To-Do List, which you can use to make simple lists of the tasks you need to do, setting alerts, scheduling repeat tasks and sorting them into different categories. You’ll develop a routine in no time.
Caring for clothes
Doing the laundry is a fairly simple process until an unusual stain throws a spanner into the works. Suddenly, you can’t just chuck it into the machine with some powder – in fact, if you do, and it’s the wrong temperature, you will seal your clothing’s fate forever. No pressure.
The Stain is an app that allows you to look up the best way to deal with a stain. It takes a little while to boot up, but it’s got an easy A-Z and category list of stains to look up. If you find clothing labels itchy, you can also save the details of a garment and its label so you won’t be stuck in the future after you cut out the tag.
Cooking more than Mi Goreng
The internet is certainly great for finding recipes, and now you can keep them all in one place with an ingenious little app called Copy Me That. It saves the ingredients and recipe method straight from the web, saving you from having to print it out or write it down. You can also organise recipes in a meal planner and add the ingredients to a shopping list. This is a good idea unless you want to be like me, stubbornly heating regular milk because you just had to make the Harry Potter Pumpkin Pasties from the Geeky Chef but you didn’t have evaporated milk (subsequently ruining your first budget saucepan from Kmart).
Of course, when you’re sourcing recipes from the world-wide web, you’re going to hit a few unfamiliar measurements outside of the metric system. Not all cups and tablespoons are created equal, apparently, and don’t even get me started on degrees Fahrenheit. Cue Kitchen Units. There’s a number of apps like this but this one is free and I find the clean interface the easiest to use to translate international measurements into your preferred unit. The app can also save conversions to favourites so you can quickly look up the ones you use most often.
Getting good sleep
When you have your own place it can be tempting to spend all night throwing a party or marathoning Netflix. However, if you do this enough, you will ruin your sleeping pattern, especially if you already do shift work or a job with early starts.
One of my friends swears by Sleep Cycle alarm clock, which monitors your sleeping patterns and wakes you up during your lightest sleep phase so you feel less groggy in the morning. It’s a paid app (some of us have saucepans to replace) but may be worth the $1.29 investment if waking up to your alarm always feels awful.
Personally, I just spend each night nodding off to the white noise courtesy of Sleepy Sounds, which I can set on a timer whenever I go to bed. It can help you zone out and fall asleep instead of lying there imagining plot twists for your favourite TV show or dwelling on a conversation from six months ago. So even if you drop the ball here or there, at least you’ll feel well-rested.
I’m going to guess that it takes a good few years of practice to get Mum’s level of domestic prowess, but in the meantime your smartphone can be a tool to help you along the way.
Do you have an app that you consider to be a life saver? Tell us about it in the comments.